Mild-Mannered Marin Cilic Prepares to Take on a Juggernaut

A year ago, Federer was still searching for confidence, still dealing with pain in his back and his postoperative left knee. But this year, he has swept nearly all before him, having played six tournaments before Wimbledon and won four of them.


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Now, Federer has the chance to break his tie with the 20th-century star Pete Sampras and the 19th-century stalwart William Renshaw and become the first man to win eight singles titles at Wimbledon.

It has been 14 years since Federer won his first Wimbledon in 2003 and five years since he last won it in 2012.

“You make it sound like the gap is huge,” he said at a news conference on Friday after defeating Tomas Berdych, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4), 6-4, in the semifinals. “I don’t feel like it’s that long ago, to be honest; 2003 feels like ages ago, because of the ponytail, the beard, whatever, you name it. This one is different. I kind of looked the same back in 2012, or at least I hope so.”

He was not quite in full flow on Friday against Berdych, a former Wimbledon finalist who was in a particularly resolute frame of mind even if he still lost to Federer for an eighth straight time.

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